Today’s discussion board prompt for my Differentiated Education class at Liberty University was as follows: Imagine yourself stepping foot in your classroom for the first time. What do you envision your class would look like? What grade level, seating arrangement, subject and population do you intend to teach? What feelings and apprehensions do you have about the first day of school?
And here is my answer:
Take a walk with me through my dream classroom! I am not a teacher yet (unless you want to count being a substitute paraprofessional as being a teacher), so I can only dream and speculate what my future classroom will look like, but I know that I want my classroom to feel like a home environment. I was homeschooled throughout my entire precollege education, and I really believe in the authenticity and relevancy to real life that home education gives. I want my classroom to model this as closely as possible. I plan to divide my classroom into different areas found in most houses, each area to be used for a different purpose. The area of the classroom with the sink and counters will be the “kitchen.” I will put in a big table to serve as an island. My class will do science experiments and math-related cooking projects in this area. The next area in the room will be the “dining room,” with several round tables for small-group discussions and collaborative projects. After that will come the “library,” a cozy little nook set apart with bookshelves and lined with bean bags and other reading-inducing items. Then will come the “living room,” which will consist of a couch, a couple upholstered chairs, and lots of floor cushions, all centered around the whiteboard. This is where morning meetings and whole class instruction will take place. Lastly will come the “office,” where my desk, my file cabinets and work-turn-in baskets, as well as the students’ computers, will be set up. In this area, students will learn math through small-scale entrepreneurial ventures, learn typing and standardized writing, and learn technology skills incorporated into all subjects. Please see the attached picture for a better view of the layout of my dream classroom.
My favorite grade is 3rd, but I would like to get certified to teach all elementary and secondary grade levels. I would love to teach Creative Writing and Art. These subjects are my passion and my forte, but, unfortunately, I do not know of any school (yet) who hires a teacher simply to teach this combination. So, I will most likely end up teaching all subjects to a single elementary grade level. Kronowitz (2012) stated that a teacher’s “seating arrangement should be consistent with [their] instructional philosophy” (p. 62). My philosophy of education is very much Neo-Scholastic in foundation and Pragmatic in practice (think biblically-based constructivism). As you can see from above, I hope to have a mix of seating arrangements in my classroom, excluding, if at all possible, rows of desks! If individual desks are at all present in my room, I want to have them scattered about in quiet corners for those students who work best by themselves without the distractions of movement and noise (or simply if someone needs to take a timeout to calm down or readjust their attitude).
My worst fear about teaching is that all the plans and aspirations I have will fall flat, that what I think will be an amazing lesson plan will turn out to be boring to my students, or that the discipline measures that I feel so strongly about will end up not working. I guess a word that could sum up my apprehension would be failure. My second biggest fear is that I will end up not liking teaching. I love my current job as a paraprofessional where I get to work more one-on-one with students, so I’m a little scared that I will end up quite disliking having to manage and teach a whole class. What has helped me the most to quell these fears is to remember that “with God everything is possible” (Matt. 19:26, New Living Translation), and also that His “strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9, New King James Version). I do not mind admitting that I do not have what it takes to be a teacher, but I can find all the confidence I need in the knowledge that God will work in me and through me to achieve things in the classroom and with my students that I could never have accomplished on my own.
Kronowitz, E. L. (2012). The teacher’s guide to success (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.